United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
C. POPLIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b), Rule 73 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and
the consent of the parties [Doc. 17]. Now before the Court
are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 18 & 19] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
20 & 21]. Amber Danielle Hosea (“Plaintiff”)
seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative
Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of
Defendant Andrew M. Saul (“the Commissioner”).
For the reasons that follow, the Court will
GRANT Plaintiff's motion and
DENY the Commissioner's motion.
December 29, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.,
claiming a period of disability that began on December 27,
2014. [Tr. 13, 146-48]. After her application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 98]. A hearing was held on August
30, 2016. [Tr. 29-55]. On December 5, 2016, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 10-28]. The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on October
17, 2017 [Tr. 3-5], making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on November 27, 2017, seeking
judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision
under Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act. [Doc.
The parties have filed competing dispositive motions, and
this matter is now ripe for adjudication.
made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since December 27, 2014, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
interstitial cystitis, fibromyalgia, Sjögren's
syndrome, migraines, anxiety disorder, and depressive
disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) except would be limited to lifting and/or
carrying 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally.
With normal breaks in an eight-hour day, she could sit, stand
and/or walk for up to six hours but would need a sit/stand
option every 30 to 45 minutes. Additionally, the claimant
would need to avoid climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds as
well as avoiding concentrated exposure to vibrations and
hazards such as unprotected heights or machinery.
Furthermore, as a result of pain, mental limitations and/or
migraine headaches, she would be reduced to simple routine
repetitive tasks in that she can apply common sense
understanding to carry out oral, written, and diagrammatic
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on May 23, 1985 and was 29 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an
individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
the Court is limited to determining whether the ALJ's
decision was reached through application of the correct legal
standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated by
the regulations and rulings promulgated by the Commissioner,
and whether the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
evidence is “more than a scintilla of evidence but less
than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). It is immaterial whether the record may
also possess substantial evidence to support a different
conclusion from that reached by the ALJ, or whether the
reviewing judge may have decided the case differently.
Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790
F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The substantial evidence
standard is intended to create a “‘zone of
choice' within which the Commissioner can act, without
the fear of court interference.” Buxton v.
Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)).
Therefore, the Court will not “try the case de
novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide
questions of credibility.” Garner v. Heckler,
745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted).
review, the plaintiff “bears the burden of proving his
entitlement to benefits.” Boyes v. Sec'y. of
Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d ...